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MRC Expert External Referee Selectors

Current vacancies

As part of the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) peer review process, research grants and fellowship applications are assessed by independent expert reviewers. More information can be found on our peer review webpage.

The MRC is currently seeking to contract Expert External Referee Selectors to select these reviewers for our research boards and panels.

Expert External Referee Selectors are experienced researchers who are familiar with medical research and the peer review process, and have research experience relevant to the areas covered by our boards and panels. Further information about the remit of the research boards and panels can be found on our research boards and panels webpage.

Expert External Referee Selectors will provide the relevant board or panel team with details of expert reviewers by given deadlines, to enable each application allocated to them to be sufficiently reviewed and presented for a funding decision. The minimum requirements for the details of each reviewer are:

  • name and title
  • current employment address
  • current email address
  • URL (to show contact details/expertise)
  • justification for selection.

The minimum required number of reviews per application is as follows:

  • fellowship: three to five expert reviews (depends on length of fellowship)
  • three year grant: three expert reviews
  • four year grant: four expert reviews
  • five year grant: five expert reviews.

In the first instance, the Expert External Referee Selector are expected to provide the following number of potential reviewers:

  • three year grant: eight reviewer selections
  • four year grant: ten reviewer selections
  • five year grant: 12 reviewer selections.

This could vary for strategic reviews. Expert External Referee Selectors will be informed of the expectations for strategic reviews in advance.

Each MRC research board and panel meeting occurs up to three times a year and if you are successful you will be contracted to select reviewers for between five and 30 applications per meeting, depending on your availability. For each grant application that is successfully reviewed, you will be paid either £85 (for grant applications of two, three or four years' duration) or £130 (for grant applications of five years' duration). This payment will be made once sufficient reviews have been received to allow the MRC to make a funding decision.

Expert External Referee Selectors will often be expected to cover several research areas within a single application and we are particularly interested in hearing from candidates with expertise in the following areas:

  • drug development
  • bioinformatics
  • mathematical modelling
  • environmental exposures
  • data linkage
  • population health, prevention and longitudinal
  • biostatistics
  • systems medicine, computational biology, uncertainty
  • electronic health records, observational data
  • AI, machine learning.

Person requirements:

  • postgraduate qualification in a relevant scientific discipline
  • demonstrable broad interest in biomedical research
  • experience of nationally/internationally competitive research
  • knowledge of the peer review process
  • good written and verbal communication skills
  • methodological approach to work
  • ability to work independently and to deadline.

To avoid potential conflicts of interest, and ensure the best use of scientific expertise available to the MRC, applicants cannot be:

  • applicants or co-applicants, either now or over the contracted term, for grants from any of the research councils
  • active researchers
  • current members of any MRC boards, panels or overview groups
  • current UKRI employees.


Applicants should be available to start work from December 2018 for a trial period of three months. Successful candidates will then be offered a yearly contract from 1 April 2019 until 31 March 2020, renewable on a yearly basis subject to satisfactory performance. Expert External Referee Selectors are not MRC employees.

Applications from individuals currently on a career break or maternity leave are welcome.

This role is not based at MRC offices and would typically be home based. Applicants must have broadband access to the internet and be readily contactable.

Please contact the Research Funding Policy and Delivery team (rfpd@mrc.ukri.org) if you would like further information about the role.

Application process

To apply, please send a full CV (including daytime phone number) with a covering letter stating where you saw the advert, and explaining how you meet the above criteria and expertise required, to: rfpd@mrc.ukri.org

Closing date for applications: 10 September 2018

Interviews will be held during October 2018 in London. Successful applicants must be available to attend a one-day induction meeting in November 2018.